Thursday, April 16, 2015

One Shot - 2011 - Live in Tokyo

One Shot 
Live in Tokyo

01. URM (11:34)
02. Black P. (9:26)
03. Def MK1 (11:03)
04. Ewaz Vader (9:43)
05. Missing Imperator (13:05)
06. Monsieur G. (8:41)

- Bruno Ruder / Electric piano + keys
- James MacGaw / Guitar
- Philippe Bussonnet / Bass
- Daniel Jeand'heur / Drums

This live set recorded in Tokyo during One Shot's tour of Japan in 2010 is simply a breathtaking, blistering performance. The sound quality of the recording is absolutely first rate, the separation of the individual instruments remarkable as well as the overall clarity. This recording is our introduction to the newest member of the band, keyboardist Bruno Ruder, and he certainly does not disappoint with his playing throughout the record. While all the musicians deliver outstanding performances, it is worth noting that Daniel Jeand'heur has over the years honed his craft, and evidence of this is fully displayed here - he plays with such ferocious precision that calls to mind the late great Pip Pyle at times. Then of course we have one of the premier modern masters of the bass guitar; Bussonnet does nothing short of giving us one of the finest performances of his career.

This is the one of those records where the only knock on it is it might be too short! While the album is fantastic start to finish, a wonderful highlight for me personally was the performance of Ewaz Vader - the band took what was already a great studio cut to the next level, with an intense, unrelenting rendition.

It's easy to run out of superlatives for this record. One Shot has clearly established themselves at the forefront of modern jazz-rock outfits. For fans of zeuhl and high-energy jazz-rock.

One Shot - 2008 - Dark Shot

One Shot
Dark Shot

01. Black P (9:09)
02. Opus 12 (7:52)
03. Def MK1 (9:48)
04. Blade (4:54)
05. Automate (7:29)
06. Downwards (9:10)
07. Nosh Partitas (5:56)

- EMMANUEL BORGHI / keyboards
- PHILIPPE BUSSONNET / bass guitar
- JAMES MAC GAW / guitar

 Shadowy and menacing like an impending tornado, One Shot is one hell of a heavy prog nightmare, reminding us that King Crimson's "Red" was pretty close to zeuhl and that a fantastic foursome can still be the finest sonic orgy ever. This is a sledge-hammer guitar, keyboard, bass and drum onslaught with no frills or ornaments and no ribbons and bows. Contrary to their day Magma gig, they waste no time with vocals either, preferring a simple menu of just plain, head down instrumental fury .We are miles away from symphonic prog , delving instead into the deep core of molten rock , bubbling miasma, sweltering shards of fiery sound and harsh flows of powerful bravado. Fueled by the ominous Philippe Bussonet bass panzer and seconded by some rivet-busting drums from Daniel Jeand'heur, lead guitarist James McGaw and keyman Emmanuel Borghi have carte blanche (or rather carte noire!) to roam majestically and at will. The whirlwind "Black P" wastes little time in setting the stage with some ferocious flings that wink and nod at certain a red monarch from long ago, while "Opus 12" collides head on with softer machines, a driving heavy jazz romp that is totally unrelenting. Immediately it becomes apparent that these men really can handle their instruments convincingly and that a unique spirit elevates this to grandiose heights. "Def Mk1" is at first slightly more unsettling, urging towards a paranoia-laden concoction where the electric piano rules supreme (what a solo!) , a nasty bass grimace kicks in shoving the mood ever forward, deeper and deeper into a sonic chasm, some hotwire guitar needling away at the crust and serious explosive high voltage drumming to keep the tension sizzling. Wow! "Blade" is the briefest piece, a cymbal jungle veering into a softer expanse that offers some well-deserved respite and introspection, a razor sharp display of groom and doom. Slap on the gel, make it foam and let the cutting edge slice away the bristle. Cool indeed! "Automate" is a slingshot salvo back into aural insanity, a robotic Wetton-esque bass furrow sweeping everything in its path, ringing e-piano resonance caressing the road signs, deliberately baleful and lumbering. Trashy drums keep it all on track while a twisted synthesizer sortie makes an effective appearance, insistent and ravenous. "Downwards" is a guitar fiasco that ignites from the get-go, a histrionic unleashing of tone and texture that reveals McGaw's inner sanctum, a universe fluid and raw, uniquely disturbing and yet deadly accurate. There are no Holdsworthian displays in his attitude, in fact it's actually closer to early John MacLaughlin's (another crazy Scot) or more conventional rock guitarists like Fripp or Reine Fiske of Landberk legend. "Nosh Partitas" is a whopping closer that rages, vents and fulminates with little decorum, the throbbing bass well installed and the One Shotters headed to the sulfuric finish line

A gigantic thank you to sinkadotentree whose drooling comments and input helped me in savoring this sonic hurricane. In closing, prog is like making love , sometimes we like sweet and sensual and then there are those edgier moments when it's so good hard and sweaty . A no contest masterpiece.

One Shot - 2006 - Ewaz Vader

One Shot 
Ewaz Vader

01. Ewaz vader (10:32)
02. Fat (15.38)
03. I had a dream / part III et IV (14.47)
04. Missing imperator (13.11)

- EMMANUEL BORGHI/ keyboards
- JAMES MAC GAW/ guitars

 Jazz-Rock from France. Mainly inspired by Mahavishnu Orchestra, but as with seemingly all modern progressive bands from that country, the looming shadow of Magma is unavoidable. Of course, in case of One Shot, that shouldn't surprise anyone. Both the keyboard player Emmanuel Borghi, the guitar player James McGaw and bass sensation Philippe Bussonnet have made regular appearances in the Magma line-up since 2000.

One Shot don't play Zeuhl though, but rather heavily rocking dark instrumental jazz-rock where only the steady rhythms and repetitive bass patterns are reminiscent of Magma. The guitar is much more prominent and also the keyboards add greatly to the sound.

Things start with a blast on Ewaz Vader, a rocking backbeat with drilling Magma bass loops and twirling Fripp guitar riffs. The intensity doesn't drop for a minute on this one. Fat slows the speed to a brooding mid-paced jazz-rock jam with clear Mahavishnu Orcestra influences in the keyboard playing. The track builds up to a wild but controlled chaos. This track has an organic flow and dynamics that most post-rock bands can only dream of. Also I Had A Dream starts in a pensive jazzy mood before it starts shifting gears to its furious finale. Missing Imperator is another one for the Crimson fans, with its abundance of heavy riffs and groovy drum and bass interplay.

Listening to these musicians makes you speechless, so proficient yet playing so tightly together. Why is this band so obscure? I also wouldn't have heard of them if it wasn't for PA's Master Of Dark Prog-Arts Sinkadotentree. Thanks mate!

This album should mesmerise every fan of King Crimson's Red and Mahavishnu Orchestra in a heavy rock-out mood. Also the masses supporting bands like Magma, Guapo and Nebelnest should watch out for this.

One Shot - 2001 - Vendredi 13

One Shot 
Vendredi 13

01. I had a dream Part 1
02. I had a dream Part 2
03. Blue bug
04. No
05. In a wild way
06. Urm

- EMMANUEL BORGHI/ keyboards
- JAMES MAC GAW/ guitars

What a lineup ! Former MAGMA members Emmanuel Borghi (Fender Rhodes, synths), James Mac Gaw (guitar), Philippe Bussonnet (bass) and also Daniel Jeand'heur(drums) who also recently played on AMYGDALA's second album are ONE SHOT. This is a live album recorded on Friday the 13th, hence the title in French. This could be described as dark, heavy Jazz with a lot of Zeuhl references.

"I Had A Dream Part 1" is the shortest track at over 6 minutes in length. Drums and keys open as the guitar comes in quickly.The result is a catchy, heavy sound.The bass 2 1/2 minutes in is monstrous to say the least. "I Had A Dream Part 2" is the longest song at 14 minutes. Compared to part 1 this is more adventerous and proggy and I like it better. Lots of atmosphere to open as different sounds come and go. We get a melody 2 minutes in. I love the way the guitar plays over top. More excellent guitar before 5 minutes with very chunky bass lines. The drumming is amazing in this intense section. Huge bass after 10 minutes. When it settles down after 11 minutes the crowd cheers at the sheer intensity and brilliant instrumental work that they have just witnessed. The guitar grinds away slowly to end it. "Blue Bug" opens with some deep bass that continues slowly until we start to hear the drums 2 minutes in. It's building slowly, reaching it's peak around 4 minutes before calming back down. It's 7 minutes in before it gets poweful again but settles again quickly. Nice guitar work after 7 1/2 minutes though. The intensity is rising after 9 minutes. Great sound.

"No" is the jazziest tune on here. Uptempo keys and bass 1 1/2 minutes in as the guitar starts to rip it up before 2 minutes. It sounds so impressive 3 minutes in. Jazz heaven 5 1/2 minutes in. More fast paced keys and bass 7 minutes in. "In A Wild Way" opens with some great sounding keys as bass and drums provide an excellent rhythm. The guitar is prominant early. It stays jazzy from before 2 minutes until guitar returns 8 1/2 minutes in. Mac Gaw starts to take over until he's tearing it up 10 minutes in.Nice. "Urm" is the most Zeuhl-like song on the album and my favourite, although it's hard to pick just one. It's dark early as drums pound slowly. It's building. Drums stop before 3 minutes as guitar starts to lead the way. Massive slabs of bass 3 1/2 minutes in as the tempo starts to pick up. Very Zeuhlish 5 1/2 minutes in. Lots of synths as well.The bass is thunderous as it shakes the soundscape to it's core. Killer track !

I can't recommend this high enough to the Zeuhl fans out there. In fact if your into heavy music or bass guitar, this is very much worth checking out. It couldn't be played any better i'll tell you that much.

One Shot - 1999 - One Shot

One Shot
One Shot

01. M.D.M. (8:25)
02. Monsieur G. (4:37)
03. Trente Trois (5:24)
04. One Shot (10:10)
05. La Main Du Diable (11:26)
06. Un Jour Dans L'Est (10:00)
07. Riff Fantom (9:23)

- Emmanuel Borghi / Fender Rhodes, synthesizer
- James MacGaw / guitar
- Daniel Jeand'heur / drums
- Philippe Bussonnet / bass

One Shot is one of those French Zeuhl band that benefits from a semi-legendary status, despite the band being only around for slightly more than a decade. The wild instrumental quartet (lead by American guitarist McGaw, keyboardist Borghi and bassist Bussonet) released their debut album in 99, and followed-up with two more albums throughout the next decade. As the title of the present disc might indicate, the present album is a re- melting of their debut album (the only available version nowadays), some ten years after its original version, because they thought that the recording process was somewhat perfectible, but it's not like we're about to get an over-produced and slickest album, quite the opposite..

OS's instrumental soundscape is a typical Zeuhlian product, one that owes still to the Kobaian band, but clearly shows its personality. You will instantly recognize the French paw, despite a certain propensity of McGaw at splashing his incendiary guitar solos at the forefront. Aside McGaw's guitar pyrotechnics, you can only be impressed at Bussonet's pulsing bass and Borghi's excellent Hammond and Rhodes exhibitions, while Jeandheur's drumming is aptly responding at his musical pals' adventures. Despite the renovation of the original recording, the album has kept a very immediate in-your-face almost-jammy rawness that characterizes One Shot, much of it, courtesy of McGaw's bleeding guitar. Generally the music flies around the speed of sound, but there is a fairly welcome rest in the 10-mins with Un Jour Dans l'Est, where Borghi's Rhodes reigns king above all, before Bussonet's Riff Fantom just sends the album into Neptune's orbit, especially with Jeandheur's awesome drumming performance. Added as a bonus on this remixed, remastered and repackaged Reforged version of the album, Fleuve is a cool bonus track (a real one), but definitely jazzier and "cleaner" in terms of sonics.

Clearly Soleil Zeuhl's captain Alain has again dropped a very timely bomb in the Zeuhl microcosm (he just stroke another major blow with the reissue of eider Stellaire's debut album), but it's not like the very-involved nature of One Shot's Zeuhl music will draw big sales. Nothing to revolutionize the Zeuhlian world, but along with early Eskaton or Stellaire, this is the kind of album that perpetuates the legend of the genre, but beware that this gem is un-carved.

Finally ONE SHOT has re-issued their debut. Originally the band released 500 copies which were all sold years ago. This one is under the Soleil Zeuhl label and it's been remixed and remastered. New cover art and a new title too as they call it "Reforged" instead of it being self titled. This was originally recorded in one day. I like this album a lot, it's not as dark or heavy as the two studio albums that follow but that's okay, I like how Jazzy it is, and at times it seems improvised. A lot looser feel here overall. For those who don't know this 4 piece band includes 3 members of MAGMA (Borghi, Bussonnet & MacGaw) along with a killer drummer named Daniel Jeand'heur.

"MDM" opens with some atmosphere then it kicks in before a minute. Everything stands out here, the bass, guitar, drums and keyboards. They're just ripping it up after 6 minutes. It ends like it began. "Monsieur G" features some prominant guitar early then the bass, keyboards and drums take the lead 2 1/2 minutes in. The guitar is back before 4 minutes. "33" opens with drums and chunky bass before the angular guitar arrives. A blistering display after 3 1/2 minutes. "One Shot" is led by bass and cymbals before the keys and drums join in before a minute. The guitar makes some noise before 3 1/2 minutes and later before 8 1/2 minutes to end it. "Le Main Du Diable" is the longest track at 11 1/2 minutes and a top three for me. It's uptempo to start then it settles with guitar as contrasts continue. It turns dark and experimental after 2 minutes. Nice. Check out the keys ! The guitar comes to the fore later then it turns uptempo again.

"Un Jour Dans L'Est" is another top three. Faint keys to open. Cymbals before 2 minutes. It's building. Bass joins in as it stays pretty laid back as keys lead. "Riff Fantom" is my favourite. This is classic ONE SHOT right here. Dark, heavy and very powerful like the albums to follow. Nice guitar work 5 minutes in. The drumming is fantastic later on. Incredible track. "Fleuve" is the bonus track which was recorded at the same time as these other songs. Guitar led and relaxed early on before the keyboards take the lead. Guitar is back later. I like it.

This was originally recorded February 22nd 1999 and the followup studio album ("Ewas Vader") wouldn't be released for about 7 years. An early look at this amazing band. A must for ONE SHOT fans and fans of Jazz / Rock / Fusion.

Visitors - 1981 - Visitors


01. V-I-S-I-T-O-R-S '81 4:33
02. Everybody Now! 3:05
03. A-E-I-E-O 3:52
04. Reveille Toi - Svegliati - Get Up! 3:37
05. Mental Slavery 3:29
06. Joyo Can You Hear (Part 1) 3:53
07. Joyo Can You Hear (Part 2) 4:32
08. Don't Squeeze! 3:36
09. Try 3:46

Bass – Rosaire Riccobono
Drums – Donald Rieubon
Guitar – Bernard Lignac
Keyboards – Zeus B. Held
Vocals – Jessy Joyce, Patrick Attali

Producer, Engineer – J.P. Massiera

Producer/composer Jean-Pierre Massiera (Horrific Child, Les Maledictus Sound, Les Chats Renaissance etc), but it's not their legendary experimental progressive magnum opus from the early 70's. No, this is the little known (but mysteriously reviled by most of those who do) second self titled Visitors album from some 10+ years later. Evidently, the individuals who've given this one a bum rap are humor impaired. Or at least they fail to realize that there IS such a thing as good cheese. And this album is grade A fromage. The Visitors of this incarnation practice what those in my circle refer to as Dr. Who rock, a charmingly ridiculous, mannered form of space rock that seems to start with Quark, Strangeness And Charm-era Hawkwind and continues on through Nash The Slash, the Daevid Allen of Dividedalienplaybax80, The Cardiacs, Poisoned Electrick Head and, most certainly here on this latter day Visitors. Yes, there ARE some howlingly bad bits on here, but to these ears, more than half of this is top notch craziness and I continue to get a stupid amount of pleasure from it.

Visitors - 1974 - Visitors


01. Dies Irae (8:10)
02. L'Extra-Aventure de Villas-Boas (4:27)
03. Terre Larbour (3:00)
04. Flatwoods story (3:25)
05. Nous (3:27)
06. Visitors (3:43)
07. Le retour des Dieux (5:00)

- Gerard Brent / lead vocals, guitar, backing vocals
- Bobo / backing vocals, acoustic guitar, rhythm guitar
- Marc Attali / lead vocals, backing vocals
- Jean-Pierre Massiera / vocals [deep]
- Marc Rolland / bass, backing vocals
- Andre Guiglion / drums, percussion, backing vocals
- Bernard Torelli / lead guitar
- Yves Revol / keyboards
- Jacky Bemardini / keyboards
- Jean-Claude Tarin / organ, moog
- Jean-Pierre Stretti /keyboards, backing vocals
- Francis Lockwood / electric piano
- Didier Lockwood / violin
- Bernard Baverey / bass, backing vocals
- Alain Berge / bass
- Jeff Castaldi / guitars
- Bernard Beylan / backing vocals
- Jessie Joyce / backing vocals
- Micky / backing vocals

Visitors was the brain-child of the obscure but infamous French producer/composer Jean-Pierre Massiera. In 1974 he single-handedly recruited a group of nineteen musicians (most notably Didier Lockwood, the jazz violinist who spent a brief tenure touring with Magma and made an indelible mark on their 1975 live album) to record an album of his unusual, progressive compositions.

The resulting LP was a concept album on the theme of extra-terrestrial contact (hence the title Visitors) and was a truly eclectic mix of prog, psych, fusion and zeuhl elements with complex arrangements and often grandiose vocals.

Never really anything more than a studio project, nothing more was seen or heard of Visitors until 1981 when Massiera recruited a new group to record a second (and again self-titled) Visitors album. Unlike the original 1974 LP, Massiera handed most of the writing duties over to other members of the group, and the resulting album bears little resemblance to its predecessor beyond the concept itself. Musically, the album is a synth-dominted mix of rock, pop and electronic sounds which, though still rather quirky at times, is overall a considerably less proggy affair.

 "Dies Irae" is the longest song which you can listen to on PA. Starts with backwards tape effects, then hymnal voices and music. Later goes into some start/stop playing. More hymnal vocals with organ. Then some Emerson-style organ playing. Guitar goes back and forth and then a symphonic rock part. Some harmony singing and then talking. After some cool 70s style hard rock before just cymbals. Then violin and female vocals. A slowed down version of symphonic part. Tempo increases.

"L'extra-Aventure de Villas-Boas" has French hard rock with a cool chorus featuring female vocals. Later acoustic guitar and violin. After some talking and female vocals going "ah-oh". Goes back to hard rock part but chorus is now male vocals. "Terre Larbour" starts with spacey synth and jazzy drumming. Magma-like talking and laughing. Then chanting, which gets louder and louder until there is just screaming. "Flatwoods Story" has lyrics in English. I think Flatwoods is either in the US or UK and was the scene of a famous alien abduction. Maybe not. Starts with storm noises. I like the chorus with narration and back up vocals going "ahhh".

"Nous" is mostly synths, violin and drums before just percussion and some vocals. Whole band then joins in and a violin solo. "Visitors" has ghost-like vocals and spacey effects to start. Then sinister clavinet and some funky Gentle Giant style guitar and violin playing in unison. Some female vocals. Music changes and then a violin solo. After a great part with call and response wordless vocals. Love that part. Goes back to the funky Gentle Giant part. "Le Retour des Dieux" has creepy monster-like whispering before some French hard rock. In the middle is a slow paced bass drum and snare with symphonic synth and violin. Then wordless vocals.

A great album. I would recommend it. Definitely not a masterpiece, but a great addition to your collection.

Surya - 1977 - Surya


01. Agartha (7:15)
02. Aspiring Answer (6:03)
03. Automatic Man (7:03)
04. Aura (6:40)
05. Patty (7:11)
06. Stakau (5:39)
07. Do Anything You Want (5:40)

- Sylvain Marc / bass
- Jean-My Truong / drums
- J.C. Agostini / guitar
- Francis Lockwood / piano
- Luc Plouton / synthesizer
- Didier Lockwood / violin

After coming to national attention with his Brother Francis (piano & kb) with The Visitors than passing through the main Zeuhl legends of Magma and Zao, Didier Lockwood embarked on a solo career with his aptly titles Jazz-Rock album in 76. He would record two more a little later on in the decade, but in between working for others (Rahmann, for ex). In the meantime, the Lockwoods had also formed their own group called Surya with Zao's drummer Truong and two lesser-known but very-capable musicians. Originally recorded in August 77, this album didn't have much luck and was released only in 80 on the very small label Cornelia, but by this time the momentum had changed for that kind of music.

Lockwood is well within the French jazz violinist after Grapelli and more closely Ponty, but he never enjoyed the high profile of those two. It is of course a little sad, because he's a very solid virtuoso, as his older brother Francis is as well. Actually, the whole group is a typical example of a JR/F band of the late 70's and they soundscape are well in line with the monsters groups of the era, especially Mahavishnu (the bros played with McL) and JL Ponty, violin's presence obliging. Despite having a double KB attack and Didier's violin (but the Lockwood bros are the youngest by far in the group), it appears that the group was rather collegial as all five had their words in the composition dept.

Their brand of mainly instrumental fusion is typically what you'd expect from the era, but some tracks have a funkier feel, notably on Madagascar-born bassist Sylvain Marc's two compositions, the rapid-fire Stakau and the choppy Do Anything, which happens to have vocals, though they're somewhat buried in the mix (more than you'd expect). Opening on the other keyboardist Plouton's Agartha composition, one can only think of the MO Mk1 albums like Birds Of Fire, but with the notable absence of a blistering guitar. The following Truong composition Aspiring Answer is a much calmer affair, but gradually picks in intensity without losing its subtlety. Didier's Automatic Man and Francis' two tracks are more "progressive" in the genre, with long intros and intimate climates, especially Aura.

But as fine as the album is worthy of discovering, you won't miss much if you don't either, because Surya doesn't reinvent the genre or add anything significant to it. Don't get me wrong, this is genre-consolidating work that can only find a legitimate space in your shelves, but so can a few other dozens of albums. If you want something from the Lockwood bros, this and Didier's debut album are about as fine as you'll find.

The few Cd reissues I have seen mostly show the album under DL's name with Surya as the album's title, but originally, this was a indeed a full-group effort.